|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on July 26, 2015 at 3:05 PM||comments (0)|
There has been much discussion among pro-Second Amendment gun activists and pro-gun control activists, and I’d like to throw my two cents worth in.
First, let me say I am a fervent supporter of the Second Amendment and a CCW permit holder for over 30 years. That being said, here is a quote from just one of the articles I’ve read: (Source - http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/07/20/obama-looks-to-ban-social-security-recipients-from-owning-guns/) "The Obama administration wants to keep people collecting Social Security benefits from owning guns if it is determined they are unable to manage their own affairs, the Los Angeles Times reported”. I have a hard time objecting to the restrictions being alleged. Let me explain why. My father was also a lifelong hunter, outdoorsman and a CCW holder his entire adult life. I watched and helped to care for him as Alzheimer's ravaged his mind in his final year of life. At one point, one of my brothers found him trying to open the slide on one of his semi-automatic handguns with a screwdriver....He had completely forgot how to use the slide release. The next day I removed all the guns from the house. In his final month he had gotten so bad he needed to be put in a hospice. I visited him a day before he passed, he had no idea who I was. It added another crack into my already broken heart. Now, imagine if we’d kept him home, had not removed the guns from the house and I had walked into his room. He would not have recognized me and reacted (very rightly in his mind) by picking up a gun and shooting the “stranger” walking into his room. From my understanding and personal experience, this rule is not necessarily a bad thing. I also work with people suffering from developmental and intellectual disabilities as well as a variety of mental illnesses and quite frankly, most of these folks can barely be trusted with a Spork. What I believe I am seeing is a knee-jerk reaction on both sides of the “gun” argument. Everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath and do a little more research into this subject. Here is another quote: (Source - http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-gun-law-20150718-story.html#page=1) "Someone can be incapable of managing their funds but not be dangerous, violent or unsafe," said Dr. Marc Rosen, a Yale psychiatrist who has studied how veterans with mental health problems manage their money. "They are very different determinations." I believe all reasonably intelligent adults understand the difference between physical disabilities that may require the need for a “Representative Payee” and intellectual and/or mental disabilities that not only prohibit one from handling finances but also prohibit one from making any cognitive decisions that also requires the services of a “Representative Payee”. As long as there is also a comprehensive appeals process to handle the inevitable bureaucratic screw-ups, such as those in the Veterans Administration, this is geared toward keeping dangerous weapons away from those with diminished mental capacity, not all senior citizens nor those on SSI or SSDI for physical disabilities.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on July 13, 2015 at 11:50 PM||comments (0)|
I love all things zombie/apocalyptic and have given much thought to various bug-out places and structures that are often discussed (even marking various primo locations on Google Earth). However, I live on a budget, like most folks, so buying an old missile silo in Wyoming or building an underground bunker like those seen on "Doomsday Preppers" is not in my game plan. I have a better idea, I'm staying home.
The town where I live was essentially owned and built to its glory between the 1920's to the 1960's by the Bethlehem Steel Company and United States Steel company. They built entire neighborhoods of identical row houses and duplexes for the laborers. They also built several neighborhoods of single-family dwellings for middle-management. It is one of those "middle-management" neighborhoods that I live in. Whereas the architecture is fairly mundane, the structural integrity is quite impressive.
There are 87 houses within a neighborhood that encompasses about 26.6 acres. Each house is built from formed concrete. That's right; each house was formed and poured. Walls 14 inches thick, from the foundation to the eaves. Basement, first floor, and second floor all swathed in a thick, protective wall of solid concrete and topped with either a gabled or hipped roof with dormers providing a finished attic. Each house is essentially its own little castle. You won't breach those walls without artillery. In the case of a SHTF scenario it would be a matter of a single day to reinforce the windows with hardwood shutters. Perhaps two or three days would be needed to brick up the windows on the first floor leaving just firing slits in each. Barring a serious nuclear, chemical or biological threat, I'm staying put in my fortress (and yes, I do have a bug-out plan, just in case). I feel confident my bunker will withstand any zombie horde or ravenous mob of human raiders. I'm well supplied and have more than adequate means to defend it.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Sure Doug, that’s all well and good.” You ponder as you raise an eyebrow inquisitively “But what if the poo-poo hits the fan while you’re at work”? This should not be an insurmountable problem, for a couple reasons; First, It is only 3.3 miles from my house to where I work. Even walking slowly, with great stealth, I could traverse that in two or three hours. Second, I drive a Suzuki Vitara. The only SUV in its class rated for off-road. So even considering that there is a river between my house and where I work. And even if all the bridges were blown to stop the hordes of bloodthirsty zombies or were blocked by unruly mobs of ne’er-do-wells, my vehicle is fully capable of fording the river at any number of points.
Now, of course, your nostrils flare with disdain as you say rather condescendingly “Well, there just happened to be an EMP at the same time as the zombie apocalypse and your nice little SUV won’t start”. I always have an EDC sling bag with me every time I leave the house. It contains everything I need to survive a night or two if need be; Two contractor bags for shelter, water, peanuts & beef jerky, a multi-tool, cordage, a first-aid kit, fire making supplies, my handgun with extra magazines and a box of ammunition and various other necessities needed to get me home safely. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, you smart ass! If, once I got home, I felt the pressing need to head for the hills; I do have a full size bug-out bag. But I’ll discuss that in another post.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on July 9, 2015 at 2:15 AM||comments (0)|
I believe anyone with a normal survival instinct is a "prepper". However, I hate the term prepper or survivalist due to the decades long smear campaign by the media. Now anytime one hears those words you immediately conjure up an image of a paranoid conspiracy theorist huddled in their log cabin surrounded by weapons and barrels full of dried legumes and beef jerky. I was a Boy Scout and believe strongly in the motto "Be Prepared". If you're prepared for the zombie apocalypse, you will be prepared for any natural or man-made disaster that may befall you. Face it, no matter what part of the country or world you live in, you will face one or more common disaster scenarios. In my neck of the woods it's blizzards and floods, and the occasional tornado.
At the man-made end of the spectrum there is the threat of contamination by one of several nuclear power plants in the state. Or a state-wide blackout due to a catastrophic failure of one of our many coal powered generating stations. There could be a flood caused by the failure of one of our many aging dams. There could also be a financial collapse brought on by the crooks in our state and federal government.
All of the above listed reasons are a good excuse to be a prepper. Fortunately, my state has a rich history of woodcraft and outdoorsmen. Large portions of the population are accomplished hunters, anglers and farmers and even the city folk have backyard vegetable gardens. Most anybody would simply consider this part of their heritage and a common way to supplement their larder. But, these are in fact, the stepping stones to being a prepper.
Being a prepper simply means being self-sufficient. Aside from the outdoorsman skills mentioned, a basic grounding in the use of common tools and skills such as basic carpentry and masonry work. You don’t need to be a craftsman to build a decent cabin with an outdoor shower and an outhouse. There you have shelter and basic sanitation. With a little more study, some more specialized tools and some ambition you can easily go from surviving to relative luxury. I know. I helped my friend build a single story cabin with a simple sleeping loft, then over the course of a couple years transform it into a split-level, 5 room hunting lodge with two large fireplaces, stained-glass windows and a wrap-around porch and raised bed gardens. Neither one of us had any type of formal training in engineering, carpentry, blacksmithing or agriculture. All the materials were either acquired on site or bought as scrap from a local lumber mill. We learned by doing and not only was it satisfying and fun, but the end result was a beautiful structure that would have cost at least 10 times as much to have a contractor build it. I learned many valuable skills and continue to do so. Am I now some paranoid anarchist skulking about the woods wearing camouflage fatigues and sporting an assault rifle? Certainly not. But I do have the confidence and skill set to know I stand an excellent chance of surviving any turn of misfortune that may befall me; whether it may be something as simple as getting lost on a hike and having to spend an unexpected night in the woods to a major disaster such as a blizzard that may keep me trapped in my house for a week without heat and electricity. If I can do it, anyone can.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 26, 2015 at 12:45 AM||comments (0)|
I require two things from science fiction, plausible science and interesting characters. Phil Elmore delivers this and more in his first Sci-Fi tale. Pick up a copy of AUGMENT: HUMAN SERVICES and enter a dark, dystopian future that is equal parts “Blade Runner” and “Frankenstein”. The tale begins by introducing Agent David Chalmers of the Human Services department on a ‘routine’ investigation in the Tech Ghetto, where all the ‘Ogs’ (people that have had significant or total body augmentations) live. This is anything but routine as Agent Chalmers finds himself embroiled in a dangerous series of events far beyond his experience. Phil Elmore’s narrative paints an entirely realistic picture in which you not only feel the physical hardship of our protagonist but the bruised psyche of a broken society. The action comes thick and fast making this easy to read and hard to put down. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in this new series.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 26, 2015 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Duke Manfist is back to save Thanksgiving. Yes, the world’s manliest action hero returns bringing his particular brand of mayhem to remind us why we are thankful. Read on as a seemingly unrelated assortment of individuals and groups decide to take up arms to stop Americans from eating at the most fattening, artery clogging, and delicious fast food joint in the country. Agent Manfist pursues the criminal mastermind behind the attacks with the single minded, ferocious determination of a wolverine on crack, or Viagra, whatever the case may be, all while steering the labyrinth of less-than-relevant Hollywood actors, doomed side-kicks and cumbersome government functionaries. So raise a glass of cider to Phil Elmore, but don’t try to read this side-splitting parody while eating, you’re nasal passages can’t take it. Trust me.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 25, 2015 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
The Hobbit – A review (Warning Spoilers Ahead). First, let me say, I’ve read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings more than 40 times in the past 35 years. I know these stories almost word-for-word, so if someone buys the rights and wants to offer these tales in another medium they had better get it right. That being said Peter Jacksons’ big screen adaptation begins differently than Prof. Tolkiens’ work. It starts the week of Bilbo’s 111th birthday party showing the elderly Bilbo sitting down to write the story of how he found the ring as Frodo leaves to meet Gandalf on the road. I can certainly accept this small deviation as it clearly ties this movie to Jackson’s earlier productions of The Lord of the Rings for those that never read the books. The tale then began with the words: “In a hole in the ground…” And moved along nicely from there. During the unexpected party with the dwarves we see Thorin flash-back to the glory days of Erebor and its downfall with the coming of the dragon with some minor ‘Jacksonisms’. The journey continues and the next hiccup came during the encounter with the trolls. Being a purist I was a bit miffed by the slight departure from Tolkiens’ narrative, but I’ll live with it. There was a scene with Radagast the Brown, another wizard that occupied a sentence in the original book, that Jackson apparently felt needed a more substantial role, about twenty minutes more. Now enter a group of orcs that seem to have a blood-feud with Thorin and chase the entire group to the very doorstep of Rivendell (again, this whole scene is an addition by Peter Jackson). During the stay with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman show up to stick their noses in the story. Yet another ‘Jacksonism’. Let’s move on. The group continues, climbing the mountain pass through the Misty Mountains, and much to my disdain Jackson seems to have taken the attack by the mountain giants literally. They are now mountain-sized giants made of living rock. After a heart-stopping escape the group has the encounter with the Great Goblins’ tribe, Bilbo gets separated from the dwarves, finds the ring, encounters Gollum and narrowly escapes to rejoin the Gandalf and the dwarves. Now, substitute the Blood-feud orcs for the mountain goblins, make considerable changes to the scene in the fir trees and you have another ‘Jacksonism’. The eagles rescue them and deposit the group near the great river and there the first film ends. As would be expected from a Wingnut production the locations, cinematography, casting, acting, music, special effects, etc., were top-notch, but someone needs to engrave the words “J.R.R. Tolkien was a masterful writer and you cannot improve his stories” into a Cricket Bat and smack Peter Jackson repeatedly in the forehead until he gets the point.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on August 24, 2014 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
I just finished reading "The Undead Situation" by Eloise J. Knapp, and where I started off enjoying it, I could only give it 2 stars. This tale had such potential. The concept of a sociopath surviving in the zombie apocalypse, what a great idea. The problem is, after reading the first couple chapters, you realize the main character is not a sociopath. He's closer to bi-polar. If you are going to write a central character that is a sociopath and a gun enthusiast you had better know something about both those subjects. The author’s page describes her as "a survival enthusiast and enjoys shooting and caring for firearms", yet she continually refers to magazines as clips. She even has a female character that is a Marine that makes this same mistake. This is unforgiveable. No Marine would ever make this mistake (I’m pretty sure even Air Force personnel know the difference). Also, sociopaths do not change...EVER! They don't learn to love. They don't grow feelings. They sometimes respect the abilities of other sociopaths, but if you see a sociopath that appears to love someone, they are pretending in order to manipulate that person. Ms. Knapp needs to take a night-course in Psychology 101 and search for a qualified weapons instructor before writing her sequel.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on February 3, 2012 at 11:35 PM||comments (0)|
I thought this would be an easy answer but I had to really think about it. I suppose it started when I was about twelve. I would draw may own Super Heroes and of course, once drawn, I needed stories for them, so I started making my own comic books. The art was lame. The writing, even worse. The tales of Archie, Veronica and friends were stories of Shakespearean complexity compared to my pathetic scribbling. Quite frankly I was far more interested in drawing at that time. Thus my scripts were of the most rudimentary sort; Hero sees criminals involved in felonious activity, hero beats up criminals, hero flies off into the sunset.
It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, in my Creative Writing class that I realized I actually enjoyed creating a written tale. I wrote a short, pulp style detective story that earned me a B+. I gave it to my friend’s girlfriend to type it for me so I could submit it to a magazine. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for the literary world) she lost it. However, it was too late for the publishing industry, the seed had been planted. I continued to work on my comics, producing tales just slightly more complex than a classified ad for a garage sale. I was a voracious reader throughout my years in secondary school, starting of course, with the pulp serials of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Norman, etc. I still love the “Sword & Sorcery” genre but my tastes began to mature and I began to explore such authors as Eric Van Lustbader, Tom Clancy, Michael Crighton, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and other authors that put actual science into their science fiction and/or techno-thrillers.
This had two very profound effects on me. First: My selection of literary material was greatly expanded. Second: I began to look for logical reasoning and realistic science in everything I read, as well as the television shows I watched, and the movies I saw. I’m sure you can see the problem. Most shows, movies and books don’t give a rat’s patoot about such mundane matters such as logic, common sense and the laws of physics. Most writers used a very popular method to move the plot along. Something I first heard described by Roger Ebert way back when he and Gene Siskel hosted their own show (where they would critique the latest films). I don’t remember the film but I clearly recall Roger refer to “The Rule of Idiots”, i.e. if it wasn’t for the idiots, you wouldn’t have a story. I saw this rule used time and again in books, television and movies and it would drive me crazy! It’s pure laziness on the part of the writer. Either that or all the screen writers and hack authors actually are that stupid (or they think we are)!
More times than I can recall, I would put down the book or leave the theater thinking, “Even I could write a better story than that.” I found myself critiquing the science and logic of every manner of story whether it was the big screen, the small screen or the printed page. Perhaps this is why I still enjoy the old pulps. As they dealt mainly with magic and the super-natural, which is by its very definition, beyond the laws of nature. Thus you have quite a bit more leeway in plot devices.
Being a great fan of all things (zombie and/or apocalyptic) it pains me somewhat to point out that the godfather of zombie movies himself, the legendary George A. Romero, is guilty of relying heavily on the rule of idiots. I found Tom Savini’s re-make of “Night of the Living Dead” to be a vast improvement over the original. Although to give Mr. Romero his due I believe he was more concerned with the underlying political/social message of his stories as opposed to the science. It was my hatred for the near epidemic use of the “Rule of Idiots” that spurred me to write. I’ve always felt that rather than use idiots to move the plot along or provide a challenge for the protagonist, simply provide a smarter/faster/stronger monster/enemy/antagonist.
Whereas I have had the germ of an idea for this story incubating in my mind for a very long time. I have found my attempts at actually writing a better story embarrassingly slow. Who knew that turning an idea into a cognizant, well-structured tale would be so difficult? Certainly not I. I have done considerable research in a number of complex medical, technical and scientific fields as best I could with a layman’s knowledge and near zero funds and believe I have delivered a scientifically plausible story.
|Posted by Doug Jeffreys on December 11, 2011 at 3:30 PM||comments (0)|
I find it a little disconcerting to read a newspaper or watch the nightly news and see the people of Occupy Wall Street and all the “spin-offs” across the country disrupting the everyday comings and goings of honest, hardworking folks like you and me.
As I watched the news the other night they displayed a map of the country with little red dots to indicate each “Occupy” demonstration. Not surprisingly, all the protests were occurring in only the largest cities along the east and west coasts with a scattering throughout the rest of the country such as Chicago, St. Louis, Denver and Houston. Again, no surprises as these are hot spots of liberalism. People that have no concept of personal responsibility or an honest days’ work. My father worked 12 hour days in a steel mill and then worked another 4-6 hours wiring houses, fixing plumbing or repairing cars to provide a safe, loving and prosperous environment for my mother my brothers, my sister and myself. My mother kept a clean house, kept us in clean clothes, cooked nutritious meals and kept us kids on track with home-work and chores. No small task with five kids.
I learned at an early age, you do for yourself. You do not rely on the government for support. That is not what governments do. The government should provide defense, an infrastructure and the freedom to be the best you can be and little else. I grew up and still live in south west Pennsylvania. Folks in this area are very much the same, just like my parents. These folks are my role-models. I’m sure you good people can relate to this as the majority of Americans share this trait of working for what you want, taking responsibility for your own lives and pulling yourselves up by your bootstraps when need be. Being a self-published author has required hard work, self confidence and personal responsibility (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/85552). I’m not special because I’ve worked jobs I hated so I could pay my bills and provide for my family. I’m sure many of you have been in the same situation and taken whatever job presented itself at the time. You adapt to the changes and hurdles life throws at you. You overcome and you improve your life. That’s what men and women do. That’s what made this country great and that’s what will keep it great.